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Seventh year success

The latest INMOTION event provided a thought-provoking forum for senior housing professionals to share ideas, best practice and to learn a few new tricks. The verdict of its organisers is another resounding success

Since it was first launched by Xmbrace in 2007, the annual INMOTION event has carved out a reputation as an insightful gathering of thought-leadership for the housing sector and the latest event was no exception.

INMOTION 2013 was held last month at Motor Heritage Centre in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and drew more than 250 delegates from across the sector; they gathered not just to hear the thoughts of sector leaders but to share best practice, network and – courtesy of the associated exhibition – check out the latest technological wares and third-party service providers able to help them run their organisations more effectively.

“INMOTION 2013 is a real highlight in the social housing calendar, allowing professionals from the sector to come together and learn about the latest technology they can implement, enabling them to drive down costs and improve organisation efficiency,” said David Todd, professional services director at Xmbrace.

“Our keynote speakers provided a true insight into the latest sector trends and forecasts drawing on their industry expertise, coupled with our exhibition of leading technology providers, made for a tremendous success for the seventh year running.”

Part of the draw, of course, was the quality of the headline speakers. These included then CIH President Robin Lawler, who addressed the audience on the challenges facing the housing sector; Dave Berrington of BT Global Services looked at the role of technology as a catalyst for change; and Wayne Gethings, managing director of the Wrekin Housing Trust, spoke about how providing services differently is becoming the “new normal”.

Gethings was also on hand to officiate at a first for this year’s event, when he announced the winner of the INMOTION 2013 Project of the Year Award.
Roundtable sessions gave delegates the chance to air – and share – their thoughts on topics of key concern for housing providers.

Between them, the roundtable sessions gave delegates the chance to discuss the following questions:
• How do you leverage paired services to drive down rent arrears?
• How do you make self-service work for you and your tenants?
• How do you expand mobile working beyond operatives?

The three hosted gatherings were attended by about 25 people each and the questions above resulted in some “interesting and thought-provoking debate”, the organisers said.

Meanwhile, the three guest speakers themselves had plenty of food for thought for those who attended the event.

Robin Lawler, chief executive of Manchester’s ALMO Northwards Housing, topped the bill, in his capacity as the President of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Since the event, of course, he has handed over the presidential reins to his successor Paul Tennant, but at INMOTION 2013 he had plenty of insightful comment for his fellow housing professionals to consider.

Lawler’s theme covered the challenges facing the housing sector. “The first and most visible challenge facing the housing sector is the dire economic climate in the UK and internationally,” he told delegates. “The UK Government’s response to the economic situation is the largest austerity programme ever seen in this country.

These austerity measures are affecting funding for national and local government services, for housebuilding, and for welfare benefits.”

However, he added that a “difficult economic situation is not an excuse for inaction or apathy” and that there were things the sector can do, among them driving better value for money, re-designing services, securing alternative sources of funding and “critically challenging what we do and how we do it”.

Dr Dave Berrington, who is head of commercial management, field force automation at BT Global Services, asked is technology the main catalyst of change? His presentation looked at how new technologies can impact on the way we work and how we can make the most of such processes to unlock more efficient ways of delivering. The essence was one of change, as might be expected in this day and age, and this fed into the third keynote speaker.

Wayne Gethings, managing director of the Wrekin Housing Trust, explored the “new normal” that is shaping service delivery: the way innovation constantly changes the process, so that both tenants and landlords can benefit. All told, it was another packed INMOTION gathering.

This year’s event was also the first to be hosted by Kirona Group, following its acquisition of Xmbrace in July 2012; a move that both parties expect will make their software products “even more powerful” following increased investment in development. Doubtless, it will also feed greater strengths into the ongoing development of the INMOTION event in the years ahead.

The event appeared to go down well with delegates and exhibitors alike; the organisers commented that “based on feedback received, the event was a valuable use of time, provided a useful networking and information exchange and so met its objectives”.

Colin Judd, sales director at InterNETalia, one of the event’s silver sponsors, concurred. “The event keeps getting better year after year and consistently attracts high quality, relevant delegates,” he said. “We love having the opportunity to meet with so many of our current and potential customers under one roof, making it a very productive day. We’ll definitely be reserving our space for 2014.”

INMOTION 2013 proved to be an “enjoyable day” with “good presentations”, said Celia Cashman, housing services director at Yorkshire Housing. “It was useful to share experiences on implementing organisational change supported by advances in technology,” she added.

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